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Browns follow family's request, won't recognize Art Modell on Sunday

At the request of Art Modell's family, the Cleveland Browns won't recognize the late Ravens and Browns owner prior to kickoff Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

David Modell and John Modell, Modell's sons, had asked that the Browns not have a moment of silence or other recognition of his passing.

The concern was that an angry reaction would take place if the Browns did something for Modell due to the lingering hard feelings from the fan base stemming from Modell moving the original Browns to Baltimore prior to the Ravens' inaugural season in 1996.

"It was very gracious and respectful of [Browns team president] Mike Holmgren to reach out to David Modell," Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne told The Baltimore Sun. "And David told me he appreciates that the Browns wanted to salute Art and is thankful they understand that might not be well-received by some fans in Cleveland."

The Browns issued a short statement of condolences Thursday when Modell died at age 87 of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

 "The family requested that we not do anything and we are certainly respecting those wishes," Browns team spokesman Neil Gulkis said in a telephone interview. "Mike Holmgren had spoken with David Modell to let him know what we were doing, and the family requested that we not do anything. We were planning what we thought was an appropriate recognition, a very short brief scoreboard read, not a moment of silence or a video tribute. The family preferred that we not do anything. We're abiding by those wishes."

The Browns issued a short statement of condolences Thursday when Modell died at age 87 of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Every other NFL city will pay tribute to Modell with a moment of silence before kickoff.

"That’s a tremendous thing that the whole league is going to be honoring Art Modell," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That speaks to his impact that he had on the National Football League. It’s something that we all in Baltimore should be proud of, and I would also say everybody in Cleveland should be proud
of that, as well.

"I think most people, most Browns fans, speaking as a former Browns fan, probably will hear something about this, but that’s OK. For Art Modell, it’s quite alright. I think everybody feels that way, I hope.”

Harbaugh acknowledged that it's been an emotional week at team headquarters.

"These are the type of emotions that drive us in life," Harbaugh said. "Our guys, they loved Art Modell, the ones that knew him. And the younger guys are getting an understanding of what he was about, and emotions drive us in a lot of ways. It’s been a tough week, but it’s been a good week.”

awilson@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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